Posted by: Brad Beaman | September 27, 2007

Motives: The Problem in the Church, Philippians 1:15-18

Many people say the biggest problem we face in the church today is an integrity crisis. It may surprise a lot of us that envy and rivalry and dissentions dates all the way back to the first century church. People preached because they wanted to exalt themselves rather than lift up Christ.   

 Motives: The Problem in the Church.

Illustration: Motives

In the fifteen hundreds there was a protestant reformer in England by the name of Hugh Latimer. He was known as a great preacher of his day and he had many opportunities to preach. One of his opportunities was to preach before the King Henry VIII of England. He thought about his great responsibility to bring a message before the King. He also thought that the message that God laid on his heart was not the message that the King was going to want to hear.  As he contemplated this, he said that he heard a voice, Latimer, remember you are preaching before King Henry VIII who, if he wills, can take away your life. Then as he began to contemplate this, he heard another voice, Latimer, remember you are preaching before the King of Kings, do not displease him.  Latimer had a struggle with motives. Would he preach what man wanted to hear or would he preach what Christ would have him preach. Latimer chose to preach what Christ would have him to preach. Ultimately it cost Latimer his life.  Paul calls our attention to the area of motives. In our church there are things we seek to do as a people of God. We seek to spend time in God’s Word and to pray corporately and individually. We seek to meet the needs of people and give our offerings. We seek to take the message of Jesus Christ out. There are a number of things we seek to do in our service to Jesus Christ. But as we do these things there is something very startling we need to keep in mind. We could be doing all these things, but if our motives are wrong it will not bring glory to Jesus Christ.  Paul is writing the Philippians and telling them that there in Rome where he is in prison people are preaching the gospel with two motives. There are two camps. There are those that preach the gospel with false motives and those who preach the gospel with pure motives. Paul spoke about this during his imprisonment. During his imprisonment the Gospel was advancing.  There were people giving a clear testimony of Jesus Christ and it was causing a great boldness for Jesus Christ. That was not the whole story. While Paul was there in prison and there was this great boldness in preaching Christ there were two different factions, those with pure motives and those with false motives. For Paul, personally things were not going well. He was held in prison, waiting for a trial. But he could rejoice because the Gospel was going forth. First we look at those with false motives. How did Paul know there were those preaching with false motives? Were there two groups out preaching the gospel, one group that wore white hats and another wore black hats, those with pure motives and those with false motives? Motives are something you don’t see with your eyes. We do not always know what the motives of people are. But Paul said there were those who preached the gospel out of envy and rivalry. He goes on to say they are preaching out of selfish ambition. Their aim was to stir up trouble for the Apostle Paul.  Now this is one of the most ironic things we could ever picture. Here are people out preaching the message of Jesus Christ. Preaching the gospel of peace, preaching the gospel of love. They are preaching this great gospel of peace and love and their motive is envy and rivalry. Can you imagine out of envy and rivalry they are preaching a message of peace and love? That is what has happened. Paul said, Vs. 15, there were those who preached the message of Jesus Christ, “out of envy and rivalry.”  It seems, as Paul was in prison in Rome that there was a group of preachers that were well known in that area. They had been preaching the gospel and they had a following of people who looked up to them. Then, along comes Paul on the scene when he is put in prison there in Rome. All of a sudden people are not so interested in these preachers anymore. People are talking more about the Apostle Paul in Rome. Some of these preachers now have envy and jealousy toward Paul. It seems that these preachers were giving a doctrinally correct message. Their one problem was their motives. They preached with false motives. In their preaching they probably preached against Paul saying he is in prison so you do not need to listen to him. They tried to lift themselves up while putting Paul down. It may surprise a lot of us that envy and rivalry and dissentions dates all the way back to the first century church. Believers there were preaching from wrong motives.  As we look around and we see people today who preach with false motives we need to remember that this is not a new phenomenon. This did not just spring up in our day, but even back in the time of the Apostle Paul people were preaching the message of Jesus Christ from false motives. They were preaching because of self-centeredness. They were preaching because they wanted to exalt themselves at the expense of lifting up Christ.  People always seem to put heir needs first. They put themselves in the center of attention. They are like the person who goes to a wedding and seek the attention that belongs to the bride. Wherever they go and whatever they do they want the attention.  

Illustration: selfish pride

One man new his friends were tempted to selfish pride and false motives. Those who always put themselves in the center of things. This man was in a Christian college where the publishers would send him books. Many of these books he had no time to read. He would take a textbook and would send it to one of his friends. He would forge a note from the author of the book and say, “Dear friend, I hope that you will be pleased to accept a complimentary copy of my book. I also hope that you are pleased that we make mention of you in this book.”  When his friends received the book they would look in the index for their name. Finally they were entrapped to read the whole book in search of the reference made to their own name. Our motives can get us in trouble. All of us battle with false motives. We all seek to lift ourselves up. But we need to remember that we are preaching the gospel of peace, the gospel of love. We need to in no way preach the gospel of peace from envy or rivalry. It was happening in Paul’s day. Paul was accusing some of the preachers of working just to lift up their own faction and their own cause. How much damage has this kind of preaching for self-interest caused?  We need to put away all our selfish ambitions and forget about rivalries. At our church we need to work together in harmony and love and preach the message of Jesus Christ out of good will. We need to avoid the ironic tragedy when we are preaching the gospel of peace and love from envy and rivalry. We need to be concerned about our motives.  Paul uses these words envy and rivalry. These are words that are found elsewhere in Paul’s lists of sins that we must avoid. Paul said these preachers are preaching the true message of Christ out of sin. It means they are preaching Christ in the flesh, in their own strength. They are putting themselves at the forefront and preaching out of false motives, with envy and rivalry. We need to preach Christ without false motives.  We need to look at the other side of the coin. There were those preaching Christ from pure motives. Instead of those preaching Christ from envy and rivalry Paul said there were those who preached Christ out of goodwill and out of love. These preachers were not opposing Paul. They were preaching from the same Spirit of Christ, that Paul was. Thank God, there where not just those preaching from false motives, but there were those who preached Christ out of good will and love.  We see there are two ways that we can proclaim the message of Christ. Let’s pray and hope the way we chose, is the way of pure motives. This is a direct contrast to those who preach with false motives. Paul is using contrasting words of envy and rivalry verses goodwill and love.  Those who preach in goodwill and love support Paul. They are interested in seeing his work go forward. They are not interested putting him down or seeing his work being put to shame to benefit their own purposes. They want to preach Christ to glorify God. They want to encourage Paul.  They knew that Paul was put in prison because he was a defender of the gospel of Christ. The only crime that Paul ever committed to be put in prison was preaching the message of Jesus Christ. So they were willing to stand behind Paul even when he is in prison. Others may have been trying to falsely accuse him they out of their goodwill and love were ready to stand with Paul.  The cry of the church today is for those who will preach the gospel with pure motives. Many people say the biggest problem we face in the church today is an integrity crisis. The thing we need most is not doers, but those who do their work with pure motives. There are so many people who do the work of the church, but their whole motivation is self-interest.  You hear of people who join a church just looking to gain business contacts or to keep a prestigious standing in the community. Or they want to be seen and perceived as someone who is spiritual or righteous. So they join the church for their image, for themselves. They have false motives.  Paul’s challenge is for us today to check our motives regarding the work we do for the church. Have you asked yourself with what motive that your service comes from. Paul makes it clear our motives are of utmost importance. Paul himself went too great lengths to make sure people knew he preached from pure motives. In I Thessalonians 2:3-4 Paul said, “The appeal we make is not from impure motives,” he said, “we are not trying to please men, but God.”   Paul is saying what he did was from pure motives. Paul preached from goodwill, out of love. He was not out to lift himself up. He could have done so. He could have tried to rally people behind him to lift himself up. Paul preached out of goodwill and love to lift up the name of Jesus Christ.  How are your motives this morning? The text I Corinthians 4:5 can challenge us in the area of motives. It says, “When Jesus comes again he will expose the motives of our hearts.” If we are doing the work of Christ with false motives we may think we can get away with it. We may think we can do the work of Christ with false motives, but we need to remember we are not fooling Jesus Christ. When he comes again our motives will be exposed.  If you are serving Christ with false motives it will be completely exposed. Only those serving with a pure heart will be able to hear those great words, we long to hear from Jesus, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Aren’t those the words that you long to hear? Then you need to be sure that you are serving God from pure motives. We need to be sure that we are not seeking the praise for ourselves, but we are out to honor Jesus Christ.  

Illustration: unselfish

All through the years the temptation has been there he seek to exalt self more than lift up the name of Christ. When F. B. Meyer was a preacher, he was in his study and could look out his study window. There were throngs of people on the way to church that Sunday morning. What F. B Meyer found out as a contemporary of Charles Spurgeon was that the people he saw from his study window were not on the way to his church, but to that of Spurgeon. So F. B Meyer prayed in his study, Lord let there be a blessing in the church of Charles Spurgeon. That is why F. B Meyer could write books about living the selfless Christ Life. He was ready to serve, and he put his self interests aside and became interested on Christ being lifted up.

 We need to not be so concerned with ourselves as that the message of Christ is going forward. We need to turn from all selfish motives. Do you have any false motives? Anything impure in your life? What is needed is to make Christ central. Paul spoke of the two groups, those with false motives and those with pure motives. Paul said the most important thing is that Christ is central. In vs. 18 we Paul wrote, “But what does it matter?” He is speaking of impure motives verses pure motives. “The important thing is that from every way, from false motives or from true Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”  In the church we often use the expression, “Let’s keep the main thing the main thing.” In other words our main task in the church is to uplift Jesus Christ. To let him be central and take his message out to others that they may know and experience God’s love for them that they may know a personal experience with God through Jesus Christ. This is the main thing and we say, “Let’s keep that the main thing in our church.”  There are so many other things we do and all are good and worthwhile, but we must be sure in our church that we keep Jesus Christ central. Let’s be sure people have the opportunity to hear that Christ loved them so much that he was willing to die for them. Christ was willing to give up his life for them. That is what Paul says is central. That Christ is preached. That Christ be honored is the central thing.  Paul says weather it is false motives or pure, the important thing is that Christ is preached. That is what we need never to lose sight of. Paul is not giving insignificance to those who preach with false motives, but he is saying that compared to Jesus being preached the motives behind it are a secondary factor. Paul knows that the power of the gospel can reach the lost even if someone is preaching with false motives.  Those who preached with false motives did not succeed in their goal of disturbing Paul. Paul rejoiced even though they preached with false motives. Paul looked beyond the negative and the things done to hurt him. He looked to the ultimate glory of God. The ultimate glory of God is that Jesus Christ is preached and people were coming to know Christ.  Here is the comment that John Calvin gave about Paul’s attitude about those who preach the false gospel he said, “Paul rejoiced in the increase of the gospel. He may not have personally endorsed them. But the main thing was that Paul rejoiced that the gospel was proclaimed and that there was an increase in the preaching of the gospel.” The main thing that we need to have as the driving force of our life is to keep Jesus Christ central. We need to remember that when Jesus Christ returns all our motives will be exposed. So anyone who thinks they can get by with false motives needs to check their heart again. Are you serving God with pure motives?  


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